Election 2022: Labor will cut $3b from APS consultant spend and hire more staff

By Tom Ravlic

April 29, 2022

Katy Gallagher
Shadow minister for the public service Katy Gallagher. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)

Labor has pledged to reduce spending on consultants and labour hire companies by $3 billion over four years, as well as rebuild public service capacity as a part of a new economic plan.

Central to the plan to rebuild public sector capacity is to restore skillsets within the public service that have disappeared due to a reliance on consultants, contractors, and labour-hire firms.

Shadow minister for the public service Katy Gallagher said the Coalition government had cut more than 12,000 jobs from the public service prior to the pandemic, and that the Labor Party wants to see the staffing number increase.

“Labor’s plan also includes nearly $500 million in reinvestment to begin rebalancing and rebuilding the internal capacity and capability of the APS,” Gallagher said.

“This includes 1,080 new, secure frontline service delivery jobs at Services Australia, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the National Disability Insurance Agency.”

Gallagher said the coronavirus pandemic has in part shown the importance of ensuring that the public service is properly resourced so that services can be delivered to the Australian community.

The policy announced by Gallagher is the second policy of an established political party that seeks to restore the number of public servants and reduce the number of consulting firms doing the work of the government sector.

The opposition has also outlined plans to do a full internal audit of government spending to determine where funds have been wasted on various programs. A 13-page policy document released by Labor cites several examples of wasteful spending or abuse of financial resources.

Examples cited include the $5.5 billion paid to wind up a submarine contract, $19.7 billion on JobKeeper payments that were paid to companies turning a profit during the pandemic, and $1 billion in government advertising.

The audit of waste would be conducted by the Treasury and Finance departments during the first year of an Albanese administration if elected next month.

An Australian Greens policy announced on March 17, which was prior to the delivery of the federal budget and the announcement of the May 21 election date, said the Greens wanted to restore the public service headcount to 2012 levels, lift public service wages by 4% each year over a four-year period, and to limit the use of labour hire firms and consulting practices such as the Big Four accounting firms to 7.5% of an agency’s budget.

Other aspects of the Greens public service policy include reforming appointment processes to reduce politicisation as well as instituting protections for whistleblowers who disclose misconduct whether it be the consequence of ministers or departments.


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